How to Make a Compost Pail


Environmentally conscious homeowners often desire to compost but many don't produce enough organic waste to use a large compost bin or construct a compost heap, especially those who live in cities. If you're limited on space but still want to reap the benefits of composting, consider using worms and a compost pail to convert your organic kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich humus. "Mike McGrath's Book of Composting," states that a 5-gallon bucket provides just enough room for composting with worms. Look for compost worms--known as red worms or Eisenia fetida---at a local fish bait shop or online worm farms.

Step 1

Invert your 5-gallon bucket on a level surface and drill eight to 10 3/8-inch holes in the bottom for drainage. Place the holes at equal distances from each other to allow adequate drainage throughout the bucket and to keep areas of excess moisture from creating excessively wet, soggy conditions that worms dislike.

Step 2

Return the bucket to an upright position on the flat surface. Drill 10 to 12 evenly spaced 3/8-inch holes in the top third of the bucket to give your compost worms plenty of ventilation and oxygen flow.

Step 3

Fill the bucket half full of shredded newspaper, spraying it down with water from a spray bottle to dampen it slightly. Set no more than 1/2 lb. of worms (approximately 500 individual worms) on top of the damp newspaper bedding. Cover the top of the pail with a sheet of cardboard and place the bucket in a warm, convenient location, such as the cupboard underneath your kitchen sink.

Step 4

Feed your worms 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of food scraps once weekly, burying the food waste beneath the top several inches of the newspaper bedding. Use mild food scraps and organic kitchen waste, such as vegetable peels, fruit scraps, tea leaves, used coffee grounds and crushed eggshells. Avoid smelly foods, such as milk products, meat scraps and oily foods.

Step 5

Skim clumpy, dirt-like bedding from the top of the compost pail with a trowel approximately three months after starting your worm bucket. Add fresh bedding to a second compost pail and transfer the worms to the new bucket to continue the composting process.

Things You'll Need

  • Two 5-gallon plastic buckets
  • Drill with 3/8-inch bit
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • 1/2 pound of red worms
  • Sheet of cardboard
  • Mild food scraps
  • Trowel


  • "Mike McGrath's Book of Composting"; Mike McGrath; 2006
  • "The Worm Book"; Loren Nancarrow and Janet Hogan Taylor; 1998
Keywords: worm composting, bucket composting, compost pail

About this Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.